The power of U.S. border guards to ban Canadians from entry for five years or longer may now be restricted as a result of a U.S. court ruling.

The power of U.S. border guards to ban Canadians from entry for five years or longer may now be restricted as a result of a U.S. court ruling.

U.S. court ruling may help curb unfair border bans

B.C. Chamber challenged use of 'expedited removals' that ban Canadians from U.S. entry for five years

The B.C. Chamber of Commerce has won a partial legal victory in its fight against five-year bans on entering the U.S. that are sometimes arbitrarily imposed on Canadian visitors.

The business group, along with Whatcom County allies, had challenged “expedited removals” that can be slapped on Canadians who U.S. border agents decide lied to them or intended to work in the U.S. illegally.

Critics say the bans on entry for five years and longer have often been applied unfairly, with no justification and virtually no chance of reversal.

Bellingham lawyer Greg Boos, who spearheaded the court action, argued U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents ignored a legal exemption indicating expedited removals are not to apply to Canadians in certain circumstances.

The Jan. 9 ruling of the U.S. ninth circuit court of appeals agreed, although Boos said it remains to be seen how the exemption will be applied in practice.

“This is the first case ever recognizing that there is an exception to the expedited removal rules for Canadians,” Boos said. “This is going to ratchet down the number of expedited removals against Canadians.”

He expects some bans will continue to be imposed and border policy won’t change overnight.

“CBP is like a huge battleship – getting it to change course is a difficult thing to do.”

The ruling is unlikely to help anyone who misrepresented themselves to U.S. authorities, he said.

But it should offer an avenue for appeal to someone who didn’t lie to agents but was banned anyway – perhaps because a search of their vehicle turned up resumes and an expedited removal was issued on the assumption they intended to work illegally.

Some B.C. residents previously banned from entry may be able to use the ruling to press for a reversal, Boos said.

He said expedited removals are also sometimes wielded by CBP agents as a threat, adding B.C. residents who arouse suspicion often report being told “I could have had you banned forever.”

The court refused to take action in B.C. resident John Smith’s case, on which the challenge was based.

He was banned from entry in 2009 after trying to cross the border south of Osoyoos to go skydiving in Arizona.

U.S. officers searched Smith’s motor home and found flyers advertising his photography work, as well as a nine cartons of cigarettes and nearly $34,000 in cash – more than he had disclosed.

Boos said expedited removals have had a “chilling effect” on legitimate temporary travel into the U.S.

B.C. television actor Chad Rook was banned from entering the U.S. a year ago and Boos said the new ruling would have been very helpful had his ban not been rescinded in late December.

Rook was going to California to seek job offers and CBP agents banned him even though he was going through proper channels to get a work visa.

The B.C. Chamber of Commerce feared disruption to cross-border trade if managers or key employees were banned from entering the U.S.

“This is great news,” B.C. chamber president John Winter said, adding he’s “very encouraged” but wary as to how any changes unfold or whether the ruling may be appealed.

Winter said some B.C. firms found their service staff were slapped with five-year entry bans when they were dispatched to the U.S. to service equipment that had been sold to U.S. customers.

“It’s been getting in the way of commercial activity,” he said. “This is an unprecedented level of power that’s wielded and it’s certainly not one that exists for Americans heading northbound.”

Winter said the Canada-U.S. Beyond the Border dialogue offers a venue where top Canadian officials should press their American counterparts to exempt Canadian business community members from the expedited removal rules.

Just Posted

Temperature records were broken for June 21, 2021. (Black Press Media file photo)
Record-breaking heat shimmered across Fraser Valley for second day

Tuesday should be a bit cooler says forecast from Environment Canada

Tourism Abbotsford has launched the ‘Let’s Go Do Something’ campaign to encourage visitors to check out all Abbotsford has to offer. (Tourism Abbotsford photo)
Tourism Abbotsford launches ‘Let’s Go Do Something’ campaign

Visitors encouraged to check out all Abbotsford has to offer this summer

Emil Anderson Maintenance is mowing the shoulder along Lougheed Highway in Agassiz, asking motorists to use extra caution around slow-moving vehicles on Tuesday and Wednesday. (Graphic/Emil Anderson Maintenance)
TRAFFIC: Slow-moving mowers working on Highway 7 shoulders in Agassiz on Tuesday, Wednesday

Mowing takes place Tues., Weds. between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

A drone’s-eye view of the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge. (Screenshot/Shutter Speed Network)
Kent Council advocates for a wider Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge

Council voted unanimously to send letter of concern to transportation ministry

Artists featured in the BLM Social Justice Art Project at UFV are (clockwise from top left): Michelle Msami, Dona Park, Rain Neeposh and Faria Firoz.
Black Lives Matter art exhibit opens at UFV in Abbotsford

Show features the work of four artists and runs until Sept. 15

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Police closed off 16th Avenue between 232nd and 240th streets in Aldergrove Saturday night at the site of a reported motor vehicle accident. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Survivors of rollover crash thank Good Samaritans for coming to their aid

Collision flipped vehicle into a 10-foot ditch on 16th Avenue in Langley

Val Litwin is the latest candidate to declare his bid for the B.C. Liberal leadership. (Litwin campaign video)
Political newcomer joins contest for B.C. Liberal leadership

Val Litwin a former B.C. Chamber of Commerce CEO

Golden Ears Mountains, captured in May 2021. (Black Press Media files)
2nd year of day passes required for entry into 5 provincial parks launches in B.C.

Pilot program seeks to protect the environment by addressing visitor surges amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Lincoln Mckoen. (YouTube)
Anglican bishop of the central Interior resigns over sexual misconduct allegations

Lincoln Mckoen was elected as a bishop of the Territory of the People region last year

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The former Kamloops Indian Residential School on the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc reserve. (Allen Douglas/Kamloops This Week)
Tk’emlups preparing for archaeological work at B.C. residential school site where remains found

The 215 graves are, to the band’s knowledge, undocumented deaths for which it is still collecting records

Fans watch the warm-up before Game 6 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens in NHL playoff hockey action Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Montreal. Quebec’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions will allow 2,500 fans to attend the game for the first time in fourteen months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Two-thirds of Canadians say governments shouldn’t lift all COVID-19 restrictions

Poll reports Canadians who gained pandemic weight say they have gained 16 pounds on average

Most Read